Ensuring appropriate employment support for people with mental health problems

16 / 10 / 2020

Stable employment is a major factor in maintaining good mental health and is an important yardstick to recovery for people with a mental health problem. There is a strong relationship between unemployment and the development of mental health problems, including increased suicide risk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to redundancy notifications by employers running at more than double the levels seen following the 2008/09 recession. This is likely to lead to a significant increase in those seeking support with their mental health. As such, there needs to be a range of therapeutically informed services to complement the more traditional approaches to employment support.

This briefing is designed to help systems and their partners understand why employment support for people with mental health problems is important and how it can look in practice.

Key points

  • For people with mental health problems, the parallel provision of clinical and employment support services is critical to their recovery.
  • All staff working with people with a mental health problem have an important role in promoting the benefits of appropriate employment and in promoting a positive view of the person’s skills and ability to work.
  • Social prescriber link workers and mental health practitioners in primary care networks have a major role in both raising and discussing employment with the people they support and signposting them to specialised employment support based on the person’s needs.
  • Both local authority and NHS commissioners work with wider system partners to integrate and embed employment support alongside clinical services to improve access, integration and visibility of employment support.
  • The full implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to increase access to specialist employment advice for people with mental health problems requires the provision of employment advice within improving access to psychological therapies services and an individual placement support service at the level of ‘place’, if the full benefits are to be realised.

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